Jay Rosen on NPR and Lisa Simeone:
Who politicized World of Opera more: Lisa Simeone by joining October 2011 but leaving her show untouched by politics, or NPR by divorcing itself from the show after taking criticism? I would say it’s NPR. Gary Knell complains that critics don’t actually listen to NPR. But did he listen to World of Opera and hear any “bias” problem with it? I doubt it. It’s about fairness, he says. What about all the people who listen (and donate) to NPR and who think that divorcing yourself from an opera show because the host has a political life isn’t all that fair?
If you’re getting bullied on the playground, bringing more lunch money won’t make it stop. You can’t keep sacrificing people to the culture war and expect things to calm down. Just because you want to make the safe choice doesn’t mean that any of the choices actually available to you are safe. This week was pledge drive for WNYC, my NPR station. We’re members and gave them $120. I don’t want a tote bag for that. I want a CEO who can think politically.
As I’ve said before, you end up like a dog that’s been beat too much til you spend half your life just covering up. Nearly every American institution I can think of is either run by conservatives or lives in fear of being tarred as librul by conservatives (I will admit that private universities may be an exception for now, but they won’t be for long if conservatives like Bobo and Daniel Sarewitz get their way).
Here’s another thing I find strange about this NPR story. If I learned that the host of a non-news show I liked was involved in the Tea Party and was effectively being fired for his involvement, I would be upset on his behalf. If it turned out that Nick Spitzer (the one public radio show I really like is “American Routes”) was showing up at Glenn Beck rallies and that my station wouldn’t run his show anymore as a result, I’d go ballistic.
It’s just plain wrong to fire someone from a non-news broadcasting job because of their extracurricular political activities.
Why is it that nobody who writes columns on the Simeone/NPR thing ever mention Mara Liasson? NPR has actual news journo employees who do commentary for Fox News and that’s not political, but a contractor who does an opera show going to an Occupy site is?
I kicked in a little to NPR anyway, because I listen to the station on my daily commute (it is literally the only good station on my radio dial) and I’m not going to punish my local station for stupidity committed at the national level.
That said, I made a point to comment on the Simone case when I submitted the donation. This definitely needs some vocal public push back. NPR needs to know it will get my ire if it fucks up. But it also needs to know it will have my support when it does the right thing.
Exactly, Doug E. Fresh. Why are conservatives so afraid of the market? Isn’t it desirable for them to let listeners vote with their radio dials (buttons?)? Can’t people make up their own minds?
No one likes Big Government interference in people’s lives like conservatives.
@Zifnab: Almost all that money you give to your local station goes to NPR. Just saying. But I’m like you. I didn’t change my donation either because I don’t know what that will accomplish. But I did write a letter (which I honestly believe they will read).
OT, but here’s a revised edition of a video I produced in the fall of 2010:
NPR stopped getting my money years ago. It’s too bad too because my local station, KQED is a good one. But I won’t support their DLC/Republican brave new world asses with one penny.
@Zifnab: Oh that will scare them all right. They’ll cash your check and change their ways for sure…..
I like to give to the individual shows that I like.
I love my public radio station, but it infuriates me that they deflect criticism of what they air “because it is NPR, not the local station”. The best way to pressure NPR is to get local affiliates to insist on accountability.
Clearly the only thing NPR was thinking was, “Oh crap, this is another stick we’re going to get beaten with.”
If she loses her Senate race, which she won’t, Liz Warren should run NPR.
First move: fire Mara Liasson and hire Louis CK.
@efgoldman: Ahh… a Christo veteran.
Jack the Second
90% of the reason I’m a member of the ACLU is the scene in Independence Day where the President says, “Yes, I am a card-carrying member of the ACLU. But the more important question is why aren’t you?”
So maybe Lisa Simeone supported the Occupy movement. The more important question, Gary Knell, is why didn’t you?
My disappointment with the national NPR organization knows no bounds, but I will continue to donate regularly to WBEZ in Chicago. This whole thing is a debacle, and Rosen is right, NPR politicized this.
What, was Simeone getting on Opera World and calling her opera listeners to the barricades…
If it was anything less than that, tempest in a teapot.
NPR needs a therapist. For several hundred dollars an hour, I would explain to NPR why it’s ok for them to be liberal. They’re just self-hating and can’t cope…
@j low: Just as the employees of your local BoA branch will ask you not to hold them accountable for the policies adopted at the highest levels. As long as reasonable people keep donating to NPR affiliates, unreasonable people will be left in charge of NPR.
@efgoldman: And now, sadly, the other place has become remade in the Christo formula.
@efgoldman: I used to like WBUR when I lived in RI back in the 70s. What was wrong with it?
Sock Puppet of the Great Satan
“Nearly every American institution I can think of is either run by conservatives or lives in fear of tarred as librul by conservatives”
Nearly every Murkin journalist lives in fear of being tarred as librul because the job market for journalists is imploding and Fox is the one sure gig that pays well. NPR/PBS have growing audiences but the pay is poor, and the business model for other forms of journalism is screwed. But Murdoch can sell senior eyeballs to Gold traders and Social Security lawyers and hence is in the money.
The ecology of Fox News is Grumpy White Guy, Shrieking Glam Harpy,* and the occasional Post-Orchidectomomy Centrist Dem to shake their heads and agree with Grumpy White Guy and Shrieking Harpy about how awful the librul hippies are.
An actual honest-to-goodness activist librul or progressive who might argue coherently and sincerely from the Left isn’t allowed on.
As Fox is a surer and better paying gig than any other because of Murdoch’s wingnut welfare, it makes sense not to screw that up by occasional hippie-punching when necessary. Don’t want to burn those bridges to a News International paycheck.
* Megan, Palin, and Malkin should be paying Ann Coulter royalties for ripping off her IP. Just saying.
Culture of Truth
That’s The American President. Also, Wolverines.
Turns out Soundprint fired Simeone and WDAV stuck by her. So, of course, people keep talking about her WDAV gig. No good deed goes unpunished, I guess.
It doesn’t matter how many people NPR fires or even if it burns them at the stake, conservatives still will not like them (in spite of them having become waaaay more conservative over the last few years) and want to cut their funding because of those nasty words “national” and ‘public” so they might just as well stop the nonsense.
Hewer of Wood, Drawer of Water
How the hell do you politicise opera? Cheer for Elmer Fudd to kill the wabbit?
You should use that in a song.
@Hewer of Wood, Drawer of Water: No, you cry when Yosemite Sam is reduced to being “a Hessian without no aggression.”
This is what happens when everything becomes political, a world-view that wingnuts have perfected. Hence, NRO with “Great Conservative Rock Songs” or reviews of movies the reviewer hasn’t even seen, based on his/her political bias. And so on to the Great NPR Anarcho-Operatic Scandal.
What a horribly stunted way of experiencing life. You might as well literally have your head up your ass.
I don’t donate to NPR anymore. I will never understand the logic of “I disagree with how you are doing things but here is a check anyway.”
We just got done with pledge week. I told them no and that the answer will continue to be ‘no’ as long as they keep refusing to stand up to the conservative bullying and refusing to accurately report instead of this stupid ‘fairness’ crap that gives discredited BS the same weight as factual information.
Instead I gave my money to Planned Parenthood.
Oh Bullshit Doug. It’s wrong to fire them for this kind of political activity which is innocent and harmless. But they go and work for Fox News or they show up at some racist teabag rally or put their name on a petition to deny other their civil rights – like Prop 8 petitions in California – then it’s perfectly cool to shitcan them and run them out of town like a dog.
I don’t think that’s true. Looking at my local station’s expenses, it looks as if less than a third of their money goes to programming, with the rest going to broadcasting and engineering, fund raising, and advertising [ETA: forgot to mention administration]. I can’t find their programming expenses broken down any further than that, but going by the number of reporters they say they employ, I’d guess that no more than half of their expenses go to buy programming. And they get their programs from APM, PRI, and BBC as well as NPR, so not all of that estimated 1/6 of their money is going to NPR.
@Jack the Second:
You’re thinking of The American President. But yes.
I decided not to donate to NPR early in the Iraq War, out of disgust with how transparently slanted their “news” programming was. They didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory during that time period, and nothing I’ve heard since has convinced me that it’s gotten much better.
@smintheus: That analogy doesn’t fly very far. My local station produces lots of great news and cultural programming. It also broadcasts lots of great syndicated shows. It would be stupid to kill off the entire station when all we want to do is kill off the cancer. B of A is a zombie monster brain that controls thousands of rotting zombie bodies through out the nation.
@Hewer of Wood, Drawer of Water:
That’s what I do. Or, more accurately, whenever the anti-abortion crowd does their baby-killer thing, I always end up singing to myself:
So, it’s possible.
NPR is the Left Wing of the corporate media.
I heard NPR talk about how business was concerned about regulation like it was a valid talking point.
Now we know the Obama administration implemented fewer regulations than the Bush administration.
And no one ever explained what all these regulations were that Obama wanted to implement in a second term.
Do you think NPR will issue a correction?
BTW, all those Iraqi Americans that NPR interviewed before invading Iraq and during the early days of the war were all pro-invasion and anti-Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi Americans I knew hated Saddam Hussein, but didn’t think invading was a good idea.
How many of NPR’s sources had significant conflicts of interest not revealed to the audience?
All of our Ferengi media is pretty much suffering from battered-wife syndrome; NPR in particular reminds me of Gibbis.
@Catsy: They did a hell of a lot better than EVERYBODY ELSE. Of course, that’s an exceptionally low bar.
NPR was cheer-leading for U.S. foreign policy in Yugoslavia too.
If NPR exists to pass along the government’s version of the news then the government can pay the freight.
Why do conservatives care what happens on an opera program? Opera is foreign and filled with immigants. Or are the conservatives complaining that NPR is covering too many of the swarthy people operas and not playing enough Wagner?
Now that’s more like it.
Hewer of Wood, Drawer of Water
@BGinCHI: @slag: there’s also the implied gay marriage in The Rabbit of Seville
Knell sure won’t be an improvement at NPR either, if his stellar leadership at Sesame Workshop is any indication. I heard he suggested cutting production costs by getting rid of the Sesame St set.
Going and working for Fox News is not “extracurricular” in my mind. The other stuff you mention, no I wouldn’t fire an opera host for that either.
@Carl Nyberg: This.
I disagree with some of what they do. I agree with some of what they do. That’s 50% more agree than I get on pretty much any other radio station.
Given that every other radio station gets money from me just for tuning in, I figure it’s not unfair to drop $10 / mo on a station that – while hit and miss – is at least commercial free. I like commercial free and I like some of their content, so they get some of my money. When I stop listening, I’ll stop donating.
NPR = Never Provoke Republicans
This Simeone business is sickening. They’re engaging in retribution against someone who isn’t even an employee, by dropping distribution the show she hosts, because of her outside political activities.
It’s pure McCarthyism.
Stopped listening or giving to NPR after their ‘two sides to conversion therapy’ fiasco. They can go raise money from the freepers. Actually I stopped giving a few years ago after they censored names from the Outrage movie. Started up again and should have known better.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
Interesting tidbit from Salon
This was October, 2001, so a lot of people’s radars were still spinning, also too, I should admit that I hate that smarmy, cloying fuck Scott Simon more than I hate David Gregory or Cokie Roberts.
It’s also wrong to fire someone from a news broadcasting job because of their extracurricular political activities. In the news job, though, any paid and possibly any direct activism should be disclosed as a conflict of interest.
I don’t object to Liasson being on both NPR and Fox as long as everything she says on NPR is preceded by the statement “Fox News pays me to present the Republican side.”
Non-news reporters should only have to report conflicts of interest if they’ve got a financial or activist role related to their topic. If Simeone had a paid role in the music business then she should have to disclose that but not anything political.
If NPR were run ethically, that is.
Of course this should also apply to Fox News if they were run ethically. (Hahahahahahaha)
@Plethded: The point is that this time NPR didn’t even wait for conservatives to complain.
A battle since it began, renewed with the Reagan savages and escalated in the Gingrich Revolution.
The war continues; the public broadcasting beast survived an attack by Moses.
I say let the streets run with the blood of right wingers, don’t worry about how ‘just plain wrong’ it is to destroy them. they’re spending their time trying to destroy you.
Roger Waters (of Pink Floyd fame) has written an opera about the French Revolution called Ca Ira. It might make an appropriate substitute.
@smintheus: Kind of reminds me of the relationship between the Catholic Church and women.
Truly, NPR needs to grow a pair and stop letting the Right push them into mediocrity.
@matt: I say let the streets run with the blood of right wingers, don’t worry about how ‘just plain wrong’ it is to destroy them. they’re spending their time trying to destroy you.
Oh yeah? And when are you picking up a gun and doing something? Who is your first target? Who do we assassinate first?
Or is saying “let the streets run with blood” from the safety and pseudonimity of the internet enough?
I am assuming he meant that figuratively, which is why I’m giving it a pass.
As a society, we keep negotiating with these terrorists. It only encourages them.
Davis X. Machina
The organ show, Pipedreams, carried on my local NPR outlet is hosted by a Michael Barone who had bloody well better not be the Michael Barone…if it’s the same guy — hostage exchange!
Davis X. Machina
@Zifnab: I send them a note saying “Here’s a standard membership, reduced pro rata for every hour of non-BBC news you broadcast.” Never heard back, but makes me feel better about the (rapidly shrinking as a portion of the broadcast day) music programming I do listen to….
Only one side in this war believes that. The other side believes in kicking ass and taking names, and would like to destroy NPR. Which creates an interesting dilemma, because if you call NPR on something like this, you’re in effect doing the enemy’s work for them.
Blame the composers and the decadent elites who run opera companies!
My lord, there are already productions of “Cosi fan Tutti-Frutti,” “The F*cking Dutchman,” and “The Marriage of Figaro and Doctor Bartolo.” Not to mention such depravities as “‘Madame’ Butterfly” or “The ‘Queen’ of ‘Spades'”!
Opera is a well-known corrupting influence, creating artsy-fartsy pantywaists, destined to become chronic malcontents who do nothing but attend protests.
Bravo I say to NPR for striking another blow for American Freedom!
@DougJ: Oh, I’m sure the poster isn’t about to do anything actually violent–which is part of why I’m tired of using the rhetoric of violence to express our frustrations with the current American climate. It makes us look ridiculous, and a little too much like Freepers or people on Breitbart, or god forbid Sarah Palin.
Either you see violence as the answer, or you see the answer in working in the system by backing people like Warren for office. If you don’t really believe in violence–and right now I don’t–then don’t use the rhetoric of violence by calling for blood in the streets.
I don’t see all fighting metaphors as bad–the example leaping to mind from the (IIRC) AFL-CIO head talking about “taking out” i.e. unelecting certain officials. Because it’s more ambiguous, and in context it can’t be mistaken for anything other than going out and voting.
@Davis X. Machina:
That’s a different Michael Barone.
Marriage of Figaro? HA! Beaumarchais’ play Figaro was banned for a good while and caused a riot (with deaths) — meanwhile, at some point, he helped supply guns to the insurgent Americans. Mozart and Da Ponte got the libretto past the Austrian censors by making large chunks of it about sex instead (now there’s a thought).
What a horribly stunted way of experiencing life. You might as well literally have your head up your ass.
If I’m not mistaken conservatives do have their heads up their asses.
And I’m not mistaken.
You have to pick your battles. I’m sorry, but NPR is too deeply crapalicious for me to care.
For radio news, such as it is, I go straight to the BBC.
If I want amusement, I listen to “Left Right and Center” and drink every time Matt Miller interupts Scheer: “BOB…BOB…BOB…BOB…BOB…BOB…”
@handsmile: I think I just heard world of Opera on Rigoletto. The story got pushed back a few centuries to limit the outrage of the ruling class (i.e. to get past the censors).
One thing I can recommend is for anyone here to go to NPR’s web site and refute the conservative troglodites that now flock there like moths to a candle. Please be proper (no cuss words) and don’t attack fellow commentors as that will get you booted.
I see a lot more of that now. It’s like all sorts of sites now are infested with morans. If it was just Politico or The Hill I could care less, but every paper, every magazine & NPR now have a 24/7 Troll on duty. Does Koch pay those buttwipes to live in their parents basement & harass the rest of us? They must.
@catclub: Rigoletto too? Well, some revolutions evidently have better, or at least more orchestral, drum circles.
@joeyess: very good and effective! I tweeted it to my tweeps and to the DNC and DCCC so maybe they’ll be calling you. It was much better than any they produced in 2010!
Jim, Foolish Literalist
@kindness: My local NPR station happened to be having a fund-raiser when the finally and belatedly shitcanned Juan Williams. I told the guy I was donating precisely because of that, he laughed and said he was hearing a lot of that. I said if the on-air hosts said that’s why I was donating, I’d kick in another hundred. He laughed again and said he’s pass it on, if he did, they passed.
MSM stories later talked about the flood of complaints NPR got for firing JW. If you read a newspaper story to the third paragraph, you got to the part where station managers said a lot of the right wing emails announced that they would never watch NPR again!
Journalists/broadcasters/entertainers with radical politics can be a difficult proposition.
It is possible for a journalist to support a political party while still being an ethical member of the fourth estate.
But it’s quite another when they support a proven liar.
@kindness: Some have to be paid. I think Drum’s blog has attracted one of those. But I think most of the trollish commenters are just driven crazy by the thought that a news organization might not be spewing Republican talking points – which they take as gospel – and see it as their personal mission to bring the offending news organization to the light.
Right or wrong has nothing to do in this situation. A raw display of power is the example set. You shoot a guy for spitting on the sidwalk and you don’t have to worry about theft. You screw over someone who goes near the line and you don’t have to worry about anyone crossing it.
Its a gangster mentality.
@jayjaybear: I did. :-)
True, and NPR did worse than that: They tried to get a contractor’s contractor fired because of something she had already done when they had no language in their contract with their contractor that gave them any control over it.
NPR and PBS are apples and oranges from local, but I think what’s getting lost is that management there ARE conservatives. I was at WGBH a couple of years ago when management brought in Mitt’s guy Ben Godly as part of their union-busting thuggery. They only care about the big donors, and most of the big donors ain’t lefties. They took the Kentucky River decision and ran with it. Suddenly a lot of “managers” not eligible for union.
However, I also worked at Kentucky Educational Television in the 90s and saw what it was supposed to be like: local and educational (GED on tv).
I’ll bet Garrison Keillor is glad that he’s distributed by American Public Media instead of NPR.
@Jack the Second:
This. Totally this.
(Also, it was “The American President,” not “Independence Day,” but I don’t care.)
I used to support two local NPR/PRI affiliates. Since the bush administration I’ve stopped sending them money as it’s clear the impact that admin had on NPR. The news coverage is terrible, slanted and frankly, trivial. I can get everything from an hour of All Things Considered or Morning Edition from glancing at the first page of Googles News. I use to get more from NPR but no longer.
So when the rethugs wanted to defund NPR I thought, finally, they shoot themselves in the foot and at least something potentially better can replace a co-opted NPR.
I listen to shows I like via podcast and support them directly. So much for the usefulness of your network NPR.
Die soon, please.
It’s kind of like being willing to shop at a bookstore that has a pile of Sarah Palin’s latest on displayed near the entry.
I’ve been a member of MN Public Radio since 1984 and I like what they’re doing locally way too much to quit because of a couple of NPR shows I hate (NPR news was actually pretty good in the 80s. It started to go down hill rapidly once they moved their main offices from NY to DC. Big mistake).
I do remind MN Public Radio every now and then that I’d be much happier if they dumped All Things Considered and Morning Edition for some less gutless (more gutfull?) news programming, but I doubt that there are enough voices echoing my sentiments to make them change. I simply don’t listen to the programs, and I let MPR know why I don’t.
It wouldn’t be a bad idea for a lot of “b-b-but that’ll make US like THEM!” Democrats to write this on a Post-It note and stick it on your bathroom mirror so you see it every day.
Here’s a good tactic: take the vitriol you use on Balloon Juice to agree with people, dial it back a hair (and JUST a hair), and use it in every day life to stick up for your beliefs against conservatives and, yes, put a little shame into those who don’t.
I had to run defense for OWS today against a liberal who was trying to impress a conservative with his moderation, doing more harm with his tepid and self-doubting support than he would have through straight opposition. That was a lot of fun, but it shouldn’t be necessary. Don’t be that guy.
Next thing you know, professional athletes are going to get cut from their teams for having objectionable opinions. Hm, nope.
What I don’t understand is why it’s OK for NPR’s Mara Liasson to shill for FOX, and not OK for Lisa Simeone to have an opinion on politics that has nothing to do with NPR. I used to be a contributor but haven’t given them a penny since they turned into No Problems for Republicans.
yes .. agree with you